Montgomery on Music, Motivation, and Ed Sheeran

Lilly Keith, Writer

This school year, our band program was blessed with a new assistant band director, Eric Montgomery. His students may know him as Monty, Montgomery Jack, or Montgomery Cheese. He’s a beloved assistant who all band kids or even arts and humanities students can enjoy being around during his class. 

What students outside of the band may not know about him is what led him to his current teaching position here. The most defining part of his music career seems to be where he grew up and attended school up in Louisville, where he’s from.

“I was in the traditional program, so I grew up going to Audubon Elementary School, Jefferson County Traditional School, and then Male.”

Once Male’s band visited his school, he knew what he wanted to do. 

“The high school band and orchestra came to the middle and elementary school every year and I was like, entranced. I was probably the only weirdo that was like, this is awesome. The marching band would perform for them in the fall. So, I was just into it. I knew I wanted to do band, so I started it in middle school and when I got to high school I knew I wanted to be a band director.”

Montgomery has always been a very talented person, as we can tell from all of his major accomplishments. 

“I did all the things in high school,” Montgomery said. “I was an all-stater. I was very accomplished. I ended up getting lots of college scholarship offers and I ended up going to UofL where I did my music education degree. I also have an actuarial science degree (a math degree).” 

One of the highlights of his high school career is most notably his ACT score.

“I got a perfect score as a junior. When I was in 7th grade I got a 32 or a 34,” Montgomery said. 

On an even more impressive note, Montgomery was accepted into every Ivy League school except Dartmouth. 

Montgomery did participate in the National Geography Spelling Bee, much like a spelling bee, just geography-based. Though he wasn’t the champion of this competition, he still did pretty well, despite his silly mistake. 

“I was the runner-up in the national geography bee,” Montgomery reminisced. “I lost because I said Tokyo, China, instead of Tokyo, Japan.” 

One of Montgomery’s most interesting experiences was when he played guitar with Ed Sheeran — without even knowing it was him.

“While I was in college, I was working down in Nashville, in Murfreesboro, teaching high school and college kids and every weekend I would stop in this super famous guitar shop in Nashville (Carter Vintage Guitar Shop). 

Every Saturday morning I’d go at opening time and I’d go jam on some guitars and I’d go eat some barbeque and then I’d go back to Murfreesboro. Well, one day, I walk in and I’m just browsing around, and it’s not uncommon for famous people to go there. I  was just playing around and this dude starts talking to me and I’m talking to him and we start jamming like you do at a guitar shop, and I didn’t know who the guy was because my pop music knowledge is minuscule. 

He ends up leaving and this guy at the shop was like, dude did you get his autograph and I was like, no, why would I get his autograph? And he was like, dude that’s like a famous guitar player, and I’m like, who is he and he’s like, that’s Ed Sheeran and I was like, that’s Ed Sheeran

Yeah, so I played guitar with Ed Sheeran and I was doing some recording down there in Nashville with some like Christian groups and I ended up doing a small little set with Ed Sheeran, 100% accident, just jamming at the guitar shop at Nashville and met Ed Sheeran.” 

At the time, he didn’t even know what Ed Sheeran looked like. 

“I didn’t know he was like a red-headed British dude, but that really narrows it down, like there aren’t many of those floating around.”

Another standout aspect of Montgomery is his unbelievable resilience. Montgomery had applied to 227 jobs and didn’t get those positions. Application 228 was the winner, here at Central Hardin. 

“I’m just incredibly resilient,” Montgomery said. “That comes up a lot with me,  just because I’m just a person that believes the right things will work out. I was applying to jobs while in Massachusetts and Central Hardin was job application 228. I think that I knew what I had to bring to the table in a high school environment and that’s my connection with kids and I wasn’t going to let that stop me from doing that, regardless of how long I’m staying here. My goal has always been to give back to music education because it transformed my life and I wanted to use music and the arts to positively impact the lives of young people. I wanted to continue to seek that opportunity even though I was doing really cool things while I was applying.”

Next time the world is feeling like it’s working against you, try to tap into that resilience that Montgomery possesses. You never know where it could lead you. With such an inspiring and helpful person like him around, it’s a game-changer for us all.